The Commission on School Reform, the independent group of education experts set up by the think tank Reform Scotland, today proposes six extra hours per week of catch-up lessons for pupils over the next two years, in order to repair the damage caused by lost education during lockdown.
Professor Lindsay Paterson, professor of education policy at the University of Edinburgh and a member of the Commission, has collated research estimating the educational gap caused by school shutdown, as well as the staffing and financial requirements to close it.
The Commission is particularly concerned by the damage done to the life chances of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Educational Endowment Foundation estimates that the inequality gap has grown during lockdown on a scale that would usually cover 3-4 years of primary school.
The Commission’s latest challenge paper – Catching up: the educational losses from Covid-19 – proposes what it sees as a realistic and achievable model for closing the gap:
- Six extra hours of tuition per week for two years
- Extra hours to be completed during extended school opening in the late afternoons
- Additional subsidies for disadvantaged children, to be managed by head teachers
- Roughly 19,000 additional staff to oversee the catch-up sessions, including retired teachers, trainee teachers and other university students
- Funding of roughly £100m per annum
More detail is provided in the paper.
Commenting, Professor Paterson said:
“The start of the new academic year in August is not only about returning children to school – it must be about ensuring that they catch up on the education which has been lost during lockdown.
“While estimates of the loss vary, there is no debate that it exists, and is particularly prevalent amongst the most disadvantaged.
“Catching up will be difficult and expensive, but not to the degree that it cannot and should not be done. £100m a year is a huge amount of money, but it will be dwarfed by the personal, social and economic cost of the loss of education during lockdown.”